Research

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Project 1: Do babies distinguish nice guys from naughty guys?
Babies watch a short puppet show in which one character (animal puppet) has a goal (for instance, to open a box or retrieve a toy), and is helped to get his goal by one puppet and blocked from getting his goal by another puppet. We then see which puppet each baby prefers by letting him or her choose between the two puppets.

Project 2: How do babies understand social relationships?
Babies see two individuals engaging in a positive act (helping each other). They then see the same individuals engaging in a different kind of act, that either stays positive (helping in a new way) or switches to negative (the two puppets now hinder each other). We examine whether infants find it surprising when the puppets’ relationship changes from positive to negative.

Project 3: How do babies learn from different individuals?
Previous work has shown that infants prefer “nice” individuals. This study asks whether infants prefer to learn about the world from nice puppets over naughty puppets. We are examining preferences for toys and foods, as well as information about how stuff works and how to act.

Project 4: How do babies interact with helpful and unhelpful others?
Babies watch a short puppet show in which a character (a boy puppet) has a goal (to retrieve a toy), and he is helped to achieve his goal by a girl puppet and is hindered by a different girl puppet. Babies then watch one of the girl puppets (either the helper or the hinderer) indicate a preference for one of two objects. We are interested to see if babies will give the girl puppet her preferred object.

Project 5: Do infants have a preference for individuals who share with them over those who share with others?
In this study two puppets interact with two babies, each puppet shares one toy with one of the two babies. Afterwards, babies choose between the two puppets.

Project 6: Do infants have a preference for individuals whose peer groups approve of their actions? 
Babies watch a short video show in which a character repeatedly selects one object over another, causing a group of observers to either respond approvingly or disapprovingly. Afterwards, babies choose between the two objects.

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